February 23, 2009

And the Winner Is……

By Paul Bieber

Yes, this blog will be a cheap take off on the Oscars. I was going to write about safety, but after watching the Oscars last night, my weak and impressionable mind came up with this.

Who is the Oscar winner in your company?

No matter how big your company is, there are people who stand out for doing an exceptional job. (If you can’t name one, go back to my blog about trading-up on personnel in tough economic times!) Do you recognize these stars on a regular basis? Yes, people prefer money to pats on the back, but you can and should give both. If money is tight now, then the pats on the back are even more valuable.

Set-up an employee-of-the-month program, or if you are under ten people, make it employee-of-the-quarter, or maybe the year. Get a nice plaque made at any awards shop, (or most sporting goods retailers can get awards made) and have a little ceremony to hand out the plaque. Actually make two, one to hang up in the workplace, and one for the employee to take home. This is the one that will continue to motivate them, when they can show it off to neighbors and friends.

Write a two minute speech saying why Joe Installer did a great job. Explain how Mrs. Jane Customer called to compliment Joe about his care in her home. Give Joe a public pat on the back, and you will both feel better.

If you have a larger company, select a committee of employees to select the special employee. Keep clear of the selection process until you make the presentation. A person honored by their peers and then acknowledged by The Boss, is double-honored. Give this award winner a special parking spot for the month. A “Reserved for Employee-Of-The-Month” parking lot sign costs about $50. This is a very low price to pay to have an employee who can’t wait to come to work to park in their special spot.

If you have an advertising budget left, place a small ad in the paper with Mary The Bookkeeper’s picture and a blurb about why she is special in helping your customers. Definitely send a press release as well to all local newspapers describing Mary’s great customer relations skills, and that she was elected by her co-workers as Employee-Of-The-Month.

If you are in a very large company, you can have multiple winners, based on shifts worked, or by departments. Place all monthly winners in a drawing for a once-a-year actual prize. Large screen TV’s are the best awards right now. Don’t pick the winner yourself…you will be accused of partiality, no matter what you do. If you have one person in mind as your best employee, then recognize them yourself with a promotion or gift. If you have the employee committee pick an overall winner, or use the draw-it-out-the-hat format, you will be better received.

When you see an employee do something great, acknowledge that ASAP, not a month later at a meeting. Always be ready to pass out praise as easily as you correct or teach an employee when things are not going according to your plan.

Do this with some fun as well–during the fall give out the MVP award around the time of the World Series. In the winter, give the player of the game around the time of the Super Bowl.

When you give the award, get as many people as you can from the company to join you. Make sure the award gets home with your recipient, whether a plaque or physical award. Bringing the family into the recognition is important to the long-term motivation of the employee. You can even invite the family to join you for a surprise awarding at your company.

So, I hope you enjoyed the Oscars, and my wife says I think business too much as everything I see reminds me about a column to write. “Get a life” she tells me, and since she is correct, next week’s column will be about managers who don’t know how to relax and enjoy life. See you then.